Sunday, November 25, 2007

Wind Chimes and New Friends

Sailor here.

Early yesterday morning, Mom and I climbed the stairs together. Mom had her hands full of bottles and cookies and towels. I looked sideways at the towels, but the cookies kept me climbing. As I followed Mom, I counted the steps and wondered if we were going to the second floor or the third.

“Eight…nine…ten…eleven.” Second floor it was.

Mom cookied me into the room with the large porcelain water bowl and the cool tile floor. Then she closed the door.

“Uh-oh,” I thought. “What now?” This is the room my humans try to drown themselves in. Don’t ask me why.

Mom turned on a hose in the shower and fiddled with it for a few minutes. Then she told me to jump into the bathtub.

Are you kidding? I don’t jump, especially into small enclosed areas. After several failed attempts and despite cookie encouragement, Mom finally sighed in defeat.

“Sailor,” Mom said. “We are going to Ah-Erg you into the tub. Stand.”

I stood.

Mom Ah-Ergged.

I collapsed in good collie fashion, having learned this at the Do It Yourself DogWash. If I become a boneless dog, Mom can’t lift me.

Mom was too strong for me today, though. She lifted my chest and draped it over the side of the tub. Before I could collapse again and slide back onto my haunches in a heap, she lifted up my rear end and wheel barrowed me into the tub.

“Ah-Erg,” Mom said. Then she gave me a bit of freeze-dried liver.

“Okay, not too bad,” I said to myself, munching. I stood there and waited for more liver.

Mom stretched the hose across the room to the tub. She pressed a button and water shot out. The water was wet. The water was warm. The water was…not too bad. Mom soaked me down, which took forever because of my double coat. She shampooed me in sections, carefully avoiding my face. I tried a half-hearted shake at one point, but Mom held my nose and laughed at me.

“Hang on! You can shake later, boy,” she said. “We’re not finished here.” Then she carefully washed my face and rinsed it in the spray. I remembered to close my eyes and hold my breath.

After a long, long rinse, I got to shake and shake and shake. Zoe says that whole the point of a bath is to wash the walls and ceiling of the bathroom. She says that dogs with double coats (like ours) are especially good at this. This is why Mom has us do this job and not, say, Josie the FatCat. And why we take baths in the bath tub to begin with.

Remembering Zoe’s words, I shook and shook and shook. I looked around to make sure I had gotten the walls and ceiling totally wet.

“Oops, missed a spot,” I said, shaking again to fill in the dry spot above the faucet.

I also sprayed a bit of Mom in the bargain, but she didn’t seem to mind. She had changed her clothes and was wearing two pieces of elastic that she says were invented by folks living on an atoll in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. She further explained that an atomic bomb was detonated on this island. This may give you an idea of what the neighbors probably thought about Mom’s bathing attire. She admitted she looked better in it about 25 years ago but for dog washing, it was just fine.

After the towel rub and the drip-trip downstairs, Mom led me by my ruff to the grooming table outside on the back porch. I jumped up, looking for more liver. Mom gave me a piece and fired up the leaf blower.

“Six horsepower!” she howled in delight.

She blasted the water from my coat. Hair flew across the yard.

“Did you know, Sailor that our bird nests are made from your dog fur?” Mom yelled above the noise.

“Pretty cool,” I yelled back. I watched the dog hair snow storm and felt happy that I could help feather so many nests.

While Mom brushed out my coat, I lay down and dozed until it was time to trim my toenails. We struggled with the toenail clippers until Mom said my toes were acceptable. Then she cookied me and I jumped down, several pounds lighter in my beautiful summer coat.

“Are you ready for a new adventure?” she asked.

“I think I’m ready for a nap,” I told her. Bathing can be very strenuous.

“You can nap in the car,” she replied, which was just what I did.

We parked in front of a low building that stood behind a row of flowers. I heard wind chimes and smelled a sidewalk full of golden retrievers.

“Meet your new friends,” Mom said, as we all sniffed noses and butts. “We are going on a therapy visit today.”

Therapy visit?

“Is this why I went to class two weeks ago?” I loved showing off how well behaved and gorgeous I was.

“Yup,” Mom answered. “That’s exactly why. You are a card-carrying therapy dog now with a turquoise leash,” she added. The color of my leash matched Mom’s tee shirt. She snapped on my special leash and opened the Wind Chimes gate. The goldens went in first. I followed, sniffing the ground behind them.

Mom led me through the front door, down a hall and into a room full of people. Some people’s eyes lit up and they smelled excited to see me. They held out their hands and patted me gently on my head and back. Some people told mom that they had a collie when they were young and tears came to their eyes. Some people grinned and grinned and reached for me and grinned some more. Some people drooled. Some people moaned. Some people looked blankly at the golden retrievers. Some people slept through the entire visit, though, and I was not allowed to nudge them awake.

“Mom, the sleeping ones will be so disappointed to have missed me,” I said, looking at the dozers on the couch.

“When we come next time,” Mom answered, “maybe they will be awake.”

Mom slipped cookies to some of my new friends and they slipped them to me. They were very generous and didn’t eat any of the cookies themselves.

I made so many new friends that I lost count. I made more new friends than there are steps up to the third floor of my house. I made more new friends than all people in my dog training class. Fortunately, Mom had more cookies in her pockets than I had new friends, and we didn’t run out of either.

The golden retrievers helped, too. They told my new friends that I was just around the corner and would get to their part of the room as soon as I could. I worked every inch of that room and another room as well. I loved making so many people happy. I loved being petted told how beautiful I am.

I loved the cookies.

I can hardly wait to go back next time and wake up those couch people and talk them into giving me cookies, too.

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